[Warning: this is a rather long post. If you're looking to skim a post, this isn't it.]
Okay. It's taken me all week to research and verify this. First of all, let me state that there are many ways researchers search online, and however you are doing it is the right way if it works for you.
Also? If you're using Evernote as part of your research workflow and you're happy with the way you're doing things, then it's the right way.
And neither a Conclusion-Based Database Software User nor an Evidenced-Based Database Software User is wrong. They're just different, and that's okay. [Information on those terms: Randy Seaver's Are You an Evidence-Based or a Conclusion-Based Genealogist? and from Russ Worthington's When to enter data into your Genealogy Software? ]
And if you're an all-paper researcher, an all-digital researcher, or somewhere in between, that's okay too.
And whether you started researching 30 years ago when it was all paper all the time or whether you started yesterday on Ancestry.com on your laptop and you own an iPad, and/or iPhone or if you are somewhere in between, well, that's okay too.
Me? I'm a New Age Genealogist doing New Age Genealogy.
- I started on Ancestry.com almost 8 yrs ago.
- I have a ton of paper files.
- I have a ton of digital files scattered all over the place thanks to just signing up for free cloud storage service. Everywhere.
- I'd like to be completely digital including having document images of sources and notes attached to the appropriate individuals.
- I'd like to back up to the cloud for all my genealogy data.
- I'm an Evidenced-Based Database Software User.
- I want my online research workflow to run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
- I use my iPhone to handle all offline research data capturing and uploading. [Yes, I'm on the newer side of researching AND I go offline.]
- I use my iPhone and Nook Tablet to access my online Ancestry.com tree for reference while researching offline.
- I want the information I find online to be able to be saved so that I can input it in my genealogy database software that is offline and into the database that I maintain online. [Right now those are separate, and I don't like that and I'm evaluating my current options to rectify. Mainly, Family Tree Maker 2012. It's almost what I want.]
- I want my data synced to all my devices so that I can access it whenever and wherever I want [because I like driving my husband crazy every time I go over my data plan every month.
[I don't know. I didn't make the darn thing. But here goes...] Well, let's say today is THE day. I'm surfing the internet because I have a 3-day weekend holiday, and I'm not stopping until I find the genealogy data that I need to help me with my brick wall problem or to give me a clue as to where to look offline. And guess what? Today turns out awesome. I'm on a roll. I'm finding 'stuff' left and right. I've got multiple tabs open on my browser for Google Search, Bing, Geneabloggers.com [to search surnames on all the genea-blogs], Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, GenealogyBank.com, Footnote.com, Genforum.com, Rootsweb.com, USGenWeb.org, and whatever else I could think of. And? I'm web-clipping, saving URLs, and writing lots of notes and citation information in Evernote. And that's just the first day.
After a 3-hour cat nap at my desk, I wake up and continue the hunt. Then towards the middle of my 3-day genealogy research binge, the thought crosses my mind that maybe I should start transferring this info to my genealogy database [because I'm Evidence-Based]. Besides, shouldn't I be using the tools for analysis in my genealogy database software that I paid good money for?
But, alas! After much googling and forum stalking I find the following unsatisfactory options for my situation:
- Keep all the data in Evernote, and every time I run a report in my software, don't forget I have a bunch of stuff in Evernote about these people.
- Keep all the data in Evernote, and every time I am using my software in some capacity, look at the notes on individuals for the link that I put there to take me to my notes in Evernote, which if I print a report with notes to give to a distant cousin, that will be appreciated, I'm sure.
- I can use the Export feature in Evernote. Yes! Oh, but no. I find that it exports in 2 types of files ~ HTML and XML, neither of which are compatible with my offline or online genealogy databases software [and not a whole lot of other things]. [Because why make it easy?]
- I can email everything to myself, download to my hard drive, then upload to anywhere. 50 notes in several different notebooks? Doable, but in this day and age? Unacceptable.
- I could cut and paste everything out of there, but see number 4 above. [Seriously? Cut and paste?]
By now, I'm thinking, "Why did everyone say to use Evernote for genealogy research? I can't easily do anything that I want to with the data I find and save. It's backed up all right. And locked up, too.
So, what do I do?
With everything given above, I have a particular online research workflow that is not supported easily [if at all] by Evernote. Check out the cool flowchart I made below. Be nice. I haven't made one since I took Computer Math in high school to avoid taking typing. Yes, the joke was on me when I made that decision. Computer Math is HARD.]
My solution is to use a Firefox browser add-on called Fireshot where I can capture all or part of the screen or web page, if I want to, then I annotate it with colors, shapes, text, and lines [Oh my!]; and then I save it to my Dropbox file located on my hard drive. It then automatically syncs to the cloud. Like magic. And the beauty is that it is saved as a JPG and since I use Ancestry.com as my online tree database, you can see the document on the person and the fact or clue it supports [whereas if it was a PDF for what they call a 'story' it's a link to be read in a PDF reader.] Also? I have Dropbox on my iPhone. Handy.]
If I'm on a site like FamilySearch.org where it allows me to save a document like a death certificate AND I don't want to annotate it, then I save it in my Dropbox file on my hard drive and it automatically saves to the cloud. Like magic. However, the beauty of taking a screenshot of it is that it captures info like the title of the collection and the name, FamilySearch.org, so that all I have to add [annotate] is the date accessed and the URL address. All of which makes creating the citation later much easier and streamlined. [But that's just me.]
One thing to note is that if you're going to annotate a document, it would be best if you took 2 screenshots. One of which you just saved. Keep it clean. And the second you mark up with notes, etc.
Last thoughts. Sorta.
My workflow is not wrong. And if you do it differently than me, it's not wrong either. We're just different. There are some out there who do it very similar to me, or would like to. Therefore, I thought I'd explain how I do it. Plus? If you are wanting to do it similar to the way I do it, I thought I'd warn you about Evernote. It's all fine and dandy if you want to fill up the file cabinet [which is what Evernote is likened to], but it doesn't play well if you want to relocate your data out of the file cabinet. That's important if you collect data and then move it elsewhere in the same manner that I do.
Now, that's not to say that I don't use Evernote. I use it for collecting data that I'm going to write about for articles and blogging. Well, I did use it until my husband's company offered MSOffice Professional Plus 2010 for $10 to us. And? It came with OneNote. I absolutely adore OneNote because it supports the way I actually research online and produces files in .doc and pdf and that makes me happy. Therefore, I don't actually do the above process unless I want a JPG [an image], which sometimes I do. What can I say? I like options. However, the above process is good for those who cannot afford MSOffice with OneNote. [OneNote also has an app for my iPhone.]
But? It comes down to these questions:
- Are you a Conclusion-Based or an Evidence-Based kind of researcher?
- Do you desire to be all-digital or not?
- How do you use your offline and/or online database software?
- Do you want to back up your data to the cloud?
- Do you want your source documents and notes attached to the folks and facts [or clues] in your database that they pertain to?
- Do you like to be able access your data all the time digitally?
- What technology do you already own? Do they support each other?
- What's your overall plan with and for your data?
What's your online workflow? What tech are you using? Does it work for you? Any questions about mine? Let me know in comments below.
New Age Genealogist